Now that it’s all said and done, I’m really pleased with Sewful Things, below,
found in Quilts from Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks Fall ’14 issue.
But this was a project on which a lot of things went wrong, and in the process, I learned a few useful quilting tricks.
It’s not the design or the quilt pattern. I was just having one of those weeks. I’m sure you’ve been there!
Today I’m sharing a helpful technique for matching tricky points in quilt blocks, and giving you the free pattern for this Spool quilt block.
First, here’s the important part, which you can also apply to many other quilting projects:
How to join the three sections so the thread and the spool ends match up perfectly, and something just as important,
how to make life easier when they don’t.
The photo above shows the problem you want to avoid. It looks funky if the “thread” is outside the spool. Let me show you how to match those points perfectly. I learned all of this the hard way so you don’t have to!
First we’re going to pin-match the points. Place the spool end unit and the thread unit right sides together. Begin by placing a pin on the diagonal seam of the spool unit, 1/4″ from the raw edge as shown above.
Then place the pin point 1/4″ from the raw edge of the thread unit, right in the seamline as you did before, as shown below.
Leave the placement pin standing straight up. By leaving it standing, the patches stay in place and are not disturbed or shifted.
With the placement pin standing up, pin on both sides of it as shown above (red pins).
Remove the white placement pin. Increase the stitch length on your machine to about 3.5 mm or as long as you can. Sew just a short section as shown below, about 1.5 inches.
Remove the pins and check to be sure the points match as you wish. If they do not, take out the stitches and repeat the process. Because the stitches are very long, they come out easily! YAY! Do the same thing with the other end of the spool unit so that it matches too.
Once the intersections match to your satisfaction, increase the stitch length to 2.0 mm (my standard for piecing) and sew the entire seam. Repeat for the other end.
I can’t tell you how many times I sewed the entire seam with tiny stitches and had it come out badly while I was making Sewful Things. Somewhere around the fifth try, the light bulb came on. I’ve been sewing for 45 years and I felt entirely silly when I realized that there was an easier way.
So next time you have tricky intersections, use pin-matching, lengthen the stitches, and sew only that portion until you’re happy with it.
Now here’s the free block pattern I promised.
For this 12″ finished Spool quilt block, you’ll need these patches:
- Spool fabric (light brown): 2 at 3″ x 12.5″
- Thread fabric (stripe): 1 at 7.5″ x 7.5″
- Background fabric (white): 4 at 3″ x 3″ and 2 at 3″ x 7.5″
You’ll use the stitch-and-flip method to create the spool ends.
Draw a diagonal line on the wrong side of each 3″ background square. I have always used a regular ruler for this, but not long ago I got the Fons & Porter Quarter Inch Seam Marker and oh my, what a difference it has made. I should have gotten this years ago.
Mark all four of the 3″ background squares on the diagonal. Be sure to place the ruler ever-so-slightly to the side of the diagonal, so that the line you draw is actually right on the diagonal center. I used a mechanical pencil for marking these.
Place a marked square at the end of one light brown rectangle as shown below.
I used a “leader” of blue fabric to help the machine get started without eating the patch corners.
Sew along the diagonal line, just a hair to the side of the drawn line (closer to the corner that will be trimmed away).
After the seam is complete, trim away the white patch as shown below, leaving a 1/4″ seam allowance. Leave the entire light brown patch in place.
Press the white patch open. Repeat for the other end, orienting the seams as mirror images so you get the effect of spool ends. Make two spool end units.
Sew the white rectangles to the sides of the striped patch as shown below, noticing the orientation of the stripes.
Use pin-matching and longer stitches to perfectly match the tricky areas of the thread and spool units. Then finish joining the three sections to complete the block.
Next time you have tricky intersections to match, you’ll be ready with this method.
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Get Quilts from Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks Fall ’14 issue and make Sewful Things for yourself!
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